CONDOLENCES will be sent by Westhoughton Town Council to the mayor of the Turkish town rocked by a mining disaster which killed 301 people.

Westhoughton Town Council observed a minute’s silence in memory of the victims at a meeting on Monday.

Cllr David Chadwick said Westhoughton “has an empathy with Soma”, given 344 men and boys from the town died in the Pretoria Pit disaster in 1910.

The disaster — the worst of its kind in Turkey’s history — occurred when an explosion sent carbon monoxide gas into the mine’s tunnels while 787 miners were underground on May 13. The last bodies were recovered on May 17, with the final death toll standing at 301.

Police have arrested 25 people in relation to the blast, with three remanded in custody.

Soma Holding insists the tragedy was not caused by negligence. It says that an unexplained build-up of heat appeared to have led to the collapse.

Cllr David Chadwick, the leader of Westhoughton Town Council, addressed the chamber at the start of the meeting.

He said: “I recently went to Turkey and it is a lovely country with lovely people.

“They have one of the worst records for health and safety so clearly when people want to get rid of healthy and safety, they should think twice.

“Any visitors to Westhoughton Library will have seen the mural entitled ‘Where’s my dad?’ depicting scenes from our own Pretoria Pit disaster in 1910. Can you imagine the scene where there is a terrific explosion in the mine and there are dead and severely injured people lying everywhere?

“I shudder to think of the way some of these people died. It must have been horrible.

“We as a community have got an empathy to the surviving miners, the families of the people who died and the communities. I should like to propose that we should send a letter of condolence to the mayor of Soma, saying that we are praying for them and thinking of them.”

Members agreed unanimously to send a letter to the mayor of Soma.

  • On December 21, 1910, at 7.50am, there was an explosion, thought to have been caused by gas trapped by a collapsed roof, in the Hulton Bank Colliery.